Thursday, February 19, 2009

Photo interlude #387

Life at Seven Trees is starting to get even busier now. We are part way done with adding an electrical circuit to the barnyard, have onions & chard sprouting in the greenhouse, some just-delivered firewood to stack, a beehive to paint before the bees arrive in April, and so on. Here are a few random pictures of goings-on this week....Homemade pizza again, always a favorite.
Newt has decided to be boss kitty of the house. She beats up the other two cats, bullies the dogs, demands treats, and hogs the best chair for her naps.

Magnus just wants to relax & enjoy life. All he needs in this pose is a clam on his belly to crack, and he'd be a land otter!

Can't do anything outside without proper inspection. For some reason, digging the trench for the power line is fascinating to all the critters. Gemini even got in the trench and walked along the whole way. I guess he wanted to make sure it was up to code. Here's Crichton, Fergus, Stewart, Doug & Buddy, keeping an eye on things. BTW, this shot is from our front stoop. I love being able to stick my head out the front door to check on the animals, or just to ring the front bell and call pony over for a treat when he's in the yard.

We found a really great deal on straw on craiglslist, so the kitties just had to check it out for themselves. You can barely make out Newt in the shadows, and Maggie is enjoying the smell of fresh straw.
We'll be working on the electrical project this weekend, stacking wood, canning chili, and hopefully having dinner at the Beach Store cafe on Lummi Island Saturday evening. We also have a cow's tongue in brine in the fridge. It will pickle for 7 days, then soak 2 days in plain water, then be slow-cooked. If it turns out tasty, we'll post the recipe. Getting beef fresh from the butcher and raising our own, means we can get every last bit of the cow to eat. I'm sure some things we won't like, but we can share that with the dogs.
And speaking of dogs, Stewart got to help round up cattle the other night. The barnyard gate wasn't latched, and the steers got out into the backyard right about bedtime. We tried rounding them up ourselves, but it wasn't working. So we brought out the specialist. Stewart has a knack for knowing how to circle around and drive them in the right direction without spooking them. It is so cool to see him work. German Shepherds were originally a herding dog, and Rottweilers are derived from an old Roman cattle-herding protection dog. Stew must be channeling his ancestors, since we've never trained him to herd cattle.


Anonymous said...

That is very cool the dog remembered how to herd. We went to the sheep dog trials once. It was like watching golf.


Bob Mount said...

Painting the entire outside of hives can be problematic. It inhibits the breathing of the wood which makes it more difficult for the bees to maintain the hive temperature the way they like it. Ormond Aebi, in his books Mastering the Art of Beekeeping and The Art and Adventure of Beekeeping was averse to painting his hives and he managed to attain the world record for hive production. His books are a wealth of practical info for beekeeping. If you want the more technical aspects of same and production for commercial purposes researched by the Big Boys please read The New Complete Guide to Beekeeping by Morse, the department head of Apiary Studies at Cornell or some such title. It is also a fascinating read. If I remember correctly, Aebi only paints his hives to add distinguishing marks that the bees can see but I could be wrong in this and have not looked it up for you to be certain.

Joanna said...

The gal who owns our local bee shop says since our climate involves chilly, windy rain so much of the year, painting the hives a medium green or similar color helps with the moisture while still absorbing a good amount of heat. It's what the big commercial place down the road does too.

The only bee book we have right now is the Dummies one. I've read a few others though. I really like seeing how experienced beekeepers manage their hives. Even if I need to make changes to suit our weather, there is always a wealth of info to glean.

Bob Mount said...

The commercial beekeepers may be balancing the cost of preserving the hive bodies for a longer period of time versus the increased stress/lowered production on the bees having to work harder to keep moisture out of the hive. This is where the book by Morse is valuable in that he usually contrasts the goals for the two types of keepers, commercial and private.

Hive placement can curtail rain problems and reduce the need for painting. I have a small roof on a pulley that protects two hives during the winter and can be raised on any sunny day quite easily at a moments notice. Hives can be placed where sun reception is maximized along with protection from the rain.

There is also a discussion on the type of foundation cell size that is best for the two types of keepers. Apparently, the larger cell size is better for the bees in that large bees are able to better resist parasites but smaller cell size is better for commercial keepers in that it produces more bees and more honey collectors so production goes up. But they have to use pesticides to control the problems. It was an eye opener for me to read Morse vs Aebi for techniques that Morse did not elaborate upon but Aebi, as a relatively small time, life-long beekeeper, covered well. Other books I have encountered seem to leave many useful ideas unexplored. I hope you have some good luck this coming year with your bee endeavors. I very much enjoy your blog.

Joanna said...

Thanks for the input Bob! I will definitely hunt those books down.

And thanks for visiting our blog. It started out as a way to document what we're doing here, until we can crunch it into a more coherent resource. It's also fun to share pictures of our household. And I have a thing for historical farming/food traditions....

I'm planning to do a post this weekend with some beer history.